As you can imagine, I stay in a lot of hotels over the course of year – a chance to experience customer service at many different levels. And after an evening of conducting a couple of focus groups, the goal is to simply find a good restaurant within walking distance that’s still serving at 11 pm.
And so, you consult with the hotel’s concierge – that is, if there is one. Because more and more, these savvy guides about everything going on in Seattle, Scranton, or Sarasota may be on the occupational endangered species list.
Why? Mostly because of apps like Open Table and Yelp, offering travelers (and anyone else) the opportunity to quickly and efficiently see all nearby eateries within just a minute or two.
I was reminded of that while listening to a feature story on NPR’s “All Thing’s Considered about how concierges are pushing back against their shrinking legions because of how consumers – especially Millennials – are consulting their mobile devices.
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And so ATC chose a twentysomething – Bobby Allyn from WHYY (Philadelphia) to examine the ways concierges are redefining their roles.
The obvious connection? DJs, on-air talent, talk show hosts, the concierges of radio.
Here in the U.S., the number of hotels actually using concierges has decreased by nearly 20% – in just the last three years. And during this time, music apps like Spotify, Pandora, and many others have attracted consumers with creating their own playlists, using music discovery tools, or being entertained by an algorithm – rather than being guided by a local radio DJ or host.
While no one reports on these things, my guess is that if you looked at the world of American radio during the last decade or so, the drop in live and local air talent has very likely equaled that percentage.
It turns out there’s an international organization of concierges – Les Clefs d’Or – or Golden Keys – and they’re rethinking how their members interact with hotel guests. The mission statement on their website says it all:
Through our vast contacts, we’re able to open doors that no others can. We strive to delight our guests, colleagues and hospitality partners, every day. By continually educating ourselves, we’re able to share up-to-the minute details of happenings around our cities and around the globe.
If you replace “guests” with “listeners,” the analogies are obvious.
Here are the ways in which they’re redefining how concierges serve their “target audience” – hotel guests – and how radio DJs can provide similar value to their listeners.
Prep – Crafty concierges work hard, study their hometowns, and establish relationships with restaurant hosts, museum directors, and other key local players. And that means an investment in research, time, and networking. In other words, relentless prepping.
Similarly, a great DJ takes the time to gather that same information about the music – and their local city – always at hand, ready to serve up factoids and backstories that an app simply cannot provide.
Connections – If you go on Open Table, and your choice is booked, you’re out of luck. But a great concierge with strong contacts at the same restaurant can hook you up and get you a table.
That “inside track” is something that some of the best local DJs (and yes, PDs) have to offer. They can get a listener backstage, in the VIP section, or simply access to events
and experiences that are premium in nature. A connected local DJ who knows the concert promoters, as well as band and venue managers can similarly move mountain to hook up fans with perks.
Success stories – Concierges are now more likely to lean on some of the above-and-beyond feats they’ve pulled off to serve guests in a pinch – coups that you can’t accomplish on Yelp. For guests, it’s about making memories so that visit to Asheville or Anchorage becomes part of a person’s life history.
Just like in radio. Many stations have these same success stories – how their airstaff has given listeners once-in-a-lifetime experiences via contests, concert trips, and meet-and-greets. But as the concierge community is learning, you have to promote those amazing moments to remind guests/listeners these stories are part of a brand’s “secret sauce.”
Connecting with guests – Concierges are learning that when they stay behind their desks, fewer and fewer hotel guests will seek them out. But when they “work the
lobby,” iPad in hand, speaking one-on-one with guests, their value becomes apparent and welcome.
And in many ways, that’s the key to radio DJs and hosts making those same connections – getting out of the studio, interacting with listeners at events, and coming out from behind the mic.
That’s how on-air talent maximize and personalize their value to their audiences and their stations. And it’s how the concierges of the world hope to revive and re-establish their role in the lives of hotel guests.
And we see and hear those moments played back in focus and L.A.B. groups all the time – those moments of eye-to-eye contact with
DJs that are indelibly etched in the minds of listeners.
Like concierges, it’s not easy to serve them – one listener at a time. But that’s what personal service and being a great concierge is all about.
There’s a lot of fall book left before the holidays arrive. Radio’s air talent can refocus their efforts on a craft and skillset that can increasingly become more important to the industry over time:
Being a great concierge.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.